There were ululations and tears of joy on Friday in the Village Magistrate Court following Gaborone Chief Magistrate Lot Moroka’s ruling that South African musician, Tokollo Tshabalala, had no case to answer in a matter in which he was facing charges of having caused the death of Tumelo Monyaisi and Marea Monyatsi by dangerous driving in Mogoditshane seven years ago.
In his ruling, Moroka said the state had proved that the accused person was on the day in question driving a BMW which was involved in the accident that caused the deaths of the two persons.
The evidence on this, he said, was given by all the state witnesses who gave evidence, including Bissau Gaobakwe and Kenneth Dibotelo, who were in the same car with the accused person.
Besides them, said Moroka, there was also a police officer, Moses Serumola, who told the Court that he had found the accused person trapped in the car by the seat belt.
After this, the magistrate said, the question to be asked is whether the driver was driving so recklessly that he had caused the accident.
On this point, he said that all evidence pointed to the fact that a combi driver, Kebonye Tsiaka, had entered the main road just five meters away from the oncoming Ford Sierra car and that the BMW, which was driven by Tshabalala, in trying to avoid hitting the combi ended up colliding head-on with the Ford Sierra coming from the opposite direction in which Monyatsi was a passenger.
Moroka said the combi driver admitted entering the main road when the oncoming BMW was just five meters away but that he did not see the car.
The evidence on this, Moroka continued, should have been looked at independently from what had happened earlier on when the accused person failed to stop after the police signaled him to do so.
Moroka also took issue with Serumola for having totally absolved the combi driver from the accident whereas the evidence showed that he was deeply involved in it.
He said that it was surprising that the combi did not even appear in the sketch map of the accident though it was also on the scene of the accident.
After the ruling, Tshabalala’s sister, Dineo, cried out in joy and hugged his mother who she was sitting next to.
Tshabalala, who was accompanied by his father, mother, sister and friends said after the ruling that he was happy that the case was over and that he would move on with his life.
He also admitted that it had had a bad effect on his music career.
South African media was well represented and the Tshabalala family seemed to have been enjoying themselves as they posed for pictures.
A stone’s throw from them was, however, the family of Monyatsi led by Basimolodi Monyatsi, the father to the deceased.
They left the Court heart broken and all he could say was: “I am not happy about this verdict” before he walked away with his grand children one of whom was weeping.
It took years to get Tshabalala to come to Botswana to stand trial for this case. At one stage an extradition hearing to get him to Botswana took place but half way through the hearing, Tshabalala agreed to come voluntarily. This was after his lawyers had explained to him that the offence he was facing did not carry the death penalty. Some South Africans are of the view that every case where one is accused of having caused the death of another person, the accused person is liable to be sentenced to death. Causing death by careless driving carries a sentence of five years imprisonment or a fine of P5000.